June 12, 2001
BY MICHAEL KELLY
More than 400 teams have come to Omaha for the College World Series since 1950. One never disbanded.
Though they don't play baseball anymore, members of the 1962 Santa Clara University team have met every year since then. About a dozen, each about 60 years old, gathered Monday and today in California for golf and reminiscing.
Four made it to the major leagues, two to the minors. But there's no distinction now among stars, role players and utility men. They're all just Paddy's boys.
John "Paddy" Cottrell was their coach. As pitcher Loren Harper remembers, "He was the toughest, feistiest, orneriest and most demanding coachCottrell any of us ever had."
And they loved him.
Harper, a stockbroker, made those comments two years ago at Cottrell's funeral. In his eulogy on behalf of the'62 team, Harper said the players had stuck together for four decades because of Paddy's care and concern for each one of them.
It didn't matter if you had been a star player, or what you accomplished later in life. You had been one of Paddy's boys in the most memorable week of his baseball career, and that meant everything.
Do today's players feel that way about their coaches?
Maybe years have to pass before they realize the bond. Surely they know that playing in the College World Series is special, a lifetime memory they will never forget.
Santa Clara is a small Jesuit college in California about the size of Creighton University. The Santa Clara baseball program had sagged to an all-time low until Cottrell was brought out of retirement. In 1961, his first year back, the Broncos finished last in the league.
But it all came together in 1962. SCU beat bigger schools such as Stanford and Southern California and came to Omaha, surprisingly, ranked No. 1 in the country.
But the Broncs lost their first game and had to come the long way around - through the loser's bracket. They won three in a row and needed a fourth to get to the championship game against Michigan.
With Paddy urging them on, they came from behind to tie. And then Mickey McDermott's inside-the-park home run in the 10th inning won it 4-3.
The team had something extra - and played three extra-inning games in the series. The most memorable was the 15-inning final, still tied for the most innings in a CWS game.
Bob Garibaldi, Santa Clara's star pitcher, still holds the CWS record for strikeouts in a series, 38. He pitched in five games, and came on in relief in the title game. He pitched seven no-hit innings before losing in the 15th.
By that fall, he was a member of the San Francisco Giants in the major-league World Series.
Garibaldi never won a game in the majors. Before long, he hurt his arm.
Of his Santa Clara teammates, John Boccabella played 12 years in the majors with a .219 batting average. Tim Cullen played seven seasons, batting .220. Ernie Fazio, All-America shortstop for the Broncos, played three seasons, hitting .182.
None was a Hall of Famer, but they and their college teammates are hall-of-famers as friends.
John Giovanola, a second baseman who had four hits in one CWS game and now is a community affairs manager for a cement company in San Jose, Calif., said the teammates look forward to their frequent reunions.
"We like to think we're as young as we were in'62 and can do all the same things again," he said. "But we know we can't. Most of us are married and have grandchildren."
Three players have died. The others follow the series each year, remembering Omaha's hospitality and great fans.
Even though Paddy is gone, the players stay close to his widow, Eunice. Coaches' spouses inevitably become important to players, too.
In that bright, shining year of 1962, Harper said, he learned from Paddy Cottrell the meaning of character and dedication. The next year, when the team wasn't as good, he learned about pride and perseverance.
Santa Clara University never again sent a team to the CWS. But those grandpas are still a team - and they'll always be Paddy's boys.